Perfectly Plated: Making a Statement in Hotel Design
I am a tableware junkie. While I love cooking, putting together a beautiful table for my guests and I to enjoy a meal at is one of the best parts of entertaining for me. My dream kitchen includes a tableware/china pantry that I can choose from based on my whim and my desire each day. I honeymooned at Pink Beach Club in Bermuda twenty plus years ago and on return asked them to send me two of their monogram signature dinner plates so I could serve future wedding anniversary meals on them (they obliged). I buy single glasses and stemware, both new and old, and fill them with wine, flowers, candles or whatever other objects suit my fancy. So you can understand why I am so excited to write about my passion for tableware and hotel design as one with a common theme: Attention to detail matters and the expensive choice is not always the winner.
Mis-Matched My Match
I recently had the pleasure of dining at The Inn at Pound Ridge, an outstanding restaurant in Pound Ridge, NY by Chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten. The space was beautiful and the food and wine amazing. I can’t wait to go back. But what caught my attention in the midst of all the eye candy was the mis-matched bread plates at our table. Each one unique, it represented the efforts by someone to select them individually vs. purchase in bulk; a great example of how the details matter so much in good design. A small detail, which garners an appreciation impossible to earn through bulk-purchasing, was executed so flawlessly at this restaurant.
Workhorse vs. Impact
In a recent interview at www.hotelsmag.com, Sims Foster, SVP for Commune Hotels and Resorts, discusses the critical role that tabletop plays in a guest’s experience be it at an independent restaurant or a hotel restaurant. While design and purchasing services at Alternate Resources do not usually extend to the selection of tableware, the sentiment is shared. Sims talks about the special touches vs. the “workhorses” of the tabletop world and both are critical components in design and purchasing of FF&E as well. We are constantly exploring design and purchasing alternatives to determine where can we achieve both for our clients as their needs require.
Finding the Balance
This attention to detail is thankfully being embraced more and more by hotel owners and brands. Fresh design with thoughtful touches tied to the locale are becoming more prevalent and from a design perspective - - - more power to them! However, we cover the purchasing side too, and give just as much attention to finding the product that delivers the design and stands up to the usage profile, all at a cost that makes sense. That special local wood surface may not be quite so special in one year if it can’t take a beating! Or the use of white “faux leather” on public seating where dyes from people wearing jeans leave a mark. It doesn’t work for the longer haul and these serve as some small examples of what we think about.
Last but not least, whether you’re talking tabletop or any other product selection, is the importance of price. There will always be those special items that you are willing to pay a premium to have and that prove worth the money for quality, beauty, function or sentimental value. However, it is often the case that great quality and beauty can achieve the same memorable experience for guests at a much lower price point. I like the idea that we can do that for our clients as much, if not more, than I like when I do it for myself. Those plates from Pink Beach Club? My newlywed budget couldn’t afford the brand new plate version so the hotel sent to me two plates gratis from their “reject” pile with a few small chips on the edges. The plates, chips and all, continue to make me smile AND deliver a meal perfectly plated. Speaking of, be sure to check out our new Pinterest boards where one is dedicated to Perfectly Plated. We would love to see yours!